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Grease Regent Theatre

By Angela Smith

In this new production,  the original plot is followed but the dialogue doesn’t intrude too much into the music. There are around eighteen numbers,  with some from the movie which were not in the original stage show (notably “Grease” and “You’re the one that I want”) and a couple which were not in the film.

The singing and the dancing is lively and the energy levels are  high throughout. George Olney is excellent  as Teen Angel. He also acts the part of the seedy DJ “Vince Fontaine” with  skill. Tom Senior’s performance of  “Greased Lighting” was the show stopper of the evening. Danielle Hope as “Sandy” gave a professional performance.  Tom Parker is in fact, excellent in his first theatrical role.

The staging was great, the choreography very good and the band  were excellent too.   In the programme there is honesty about the intent of the show “Grease doesn’t have a message, what it’s  really about is having fun”. The show cheers you up and gets everyone feet tapping.  Danny and Sandy’s duet, You’re the One that I Want, was as popular with the audience as you would expect and Louisa Lytton as bad girl Rizzo nailed her solo performance.

The director David Gilmore hit just the right note with a melody of all the favourites to end the colourful and energetic show. It is clear to see how the musical is one of the most successful of all time  and it  may be 40 years on but Grease the Musical is still the one that we want. So dust off your leather jackets, sit back and enjoy.

Written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, directed by David Gilmore and choreographed by Arlene Phillips , designed by Terry Parsons, with costumes by Andreane Neofitou.

Tickets are on sale and are available from the Box Office, by calling 0844 871 7649 or visiting www.atgtickets.com/stoke   

Sister Act. Regent Theatre

By Angela Smith

The story is the same, the characters are familiar, however all thoughts of Whoopi Goldberg are dispelled within a few minutes as  Burke  claims the role as her own and has a great stage presence. It’s a heart warming performance. She has  all the right ingredients, a rich powerful vocal coupled with emotion that is convincing and comic timing too.

The story is set in 1977 and having witnessed a murder, nightclub singer Deloris agrees to give evidence against her ex, to put him away for life. There’s  one problem, if he gets to her first he’ll kill her. To save her life, and his key witness, local copper ‘Sweaty Eddie’ arranges for the singer to hide in the local convent  disguised as a nun. It’s not long, however, before Deloris is drawing attention to herself and her holy sisters, putting them all at risk. If Burke is the star of the show, she has top notch support from her fellow nuns.

Other cast members also get to shine, from Karen Mann as Mother Superior to Joe Vetch as nice guy cop ‘Sweaty’ Eddie. Aaron Lee Lambert is the criminal Curtis while Sarah Goggin and Susannah Van Den Berg are clearly having a ball as singing Sisters Mary Patrick and Mary Robert

Another standout moment sees goons TJ, Joey and Pablo, aka Sandy Grigelis, Samuel Morgan-Grahame and Ricky Rojas, try to seduce the Lady in the Long Black Dress.

Matthew Wright’s adaptable convent set and Seventies chic costumes add  to the atmosphere, as does the  lighting  by Richard G Jones. Strictly Come Dancing judge Revel Horwood’s direction is sharp, with most of his dramatic choices as effective as his  dance sequences. Sister Act is a hugely enjoyable uplifting  show, full of energy.

The show has original songs and they’re almost all gems from soulful ballads to high energy disco numbers, Motown pastiches, including the song for a tipsy Mother Superior, all moving the story along while revealing character. Especially that drunk song, Haven’t Got a Prayer from Karen Mann, who acts her socks off as she lets her fears about lounge singer Deloris fly free.

This show really is fabulous, you should not miss it

Running time: Two hours and 50 minutes (including the interval)

*  The Regent Theatre & Victoria Hall, Bagnall St,  Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3AD (  01782 211204  )

Box Office 0844 871 7649 (bkg fee)  www.atgtickets.com/stoke (bkg fee)

 

The Play That Goes Wrong. Regent Theatre. (May 1st-6th)

By Angela Smith

This is a  compelling production that nails the humour and so makes it work exceptionally well.

The plot sees the amateur dramatic club Cornley Polytechnic Society looking to recover from some previous mishaps by staging a production of a 1920s murder mystery. The central play is a fairly straight forward, where four actors walk into a room to find their host has been murdered, that one of them is the killer, and they have to figure out in case he strikes again.

In the play we watch, everything starts going wrong. From a stage that’s falling apart even before things get going, to little things like the man playing the deceased getting sat on or getting his hand trod on  seen even at the beginning!

The play is a highly amusing farce.  It  brings with it both mishaps you could see coming, and ones that go in a completely unexpectedly demented direction, and that is what makes it all fit together.

The actors in it and  their “the show must go on” attitude make the play too. It almost doesn’t matter they have to drink white spirit as someone lost the whiskey, or someone’s forgotten dialogue leading to a loop of the same scene, or the sound guy is playing Duran Duran instead of dramatic stings, or that the female lead has been knocked out and a stagehand is standing in while reading the script,  the show must  go on and it does!.

The show’s director loses a prop and has a Fawlty Towers type moment when despairing over his play going so badly. This is  certain a memorable moment for me, and the cast gamely gives it all and puts in a great group performance to convey really bad actors. The stage set takes on a role as a character, picking excellently timed moments to fall apart.

As the play nears its end, it is full of jokes  and the set enters its final disintergration . It is hard to keep up to be honest.

The Play That Goes Wrong is very amusing and I recommend it.

Tickets are on sale now and available from the Box Office, by calling 0844 871 7649 or visiting www.atgtickets.com/stoke      

Running time: 2 hrs 5 mins including a 20 minute interval.

Recommended Age: 8+.

2015 Olivier Award Winner for Best New Comedy.

2015 Broadway World UK Winner for Best New Play.

2014 WhatsOnStage Award Winner for Best New Comedy.

Mamma Mia

By Angela Smith

Like the 2008 film, Mamma Mia the stage show is set on a sun kissed Greek island and centres on a daughter’s quest to discover who her father is for the very first time.

It brings her mother face to face with three men from her past on the eve of a never to be forgotten wedding.

Lucy May Barker’s (Sophie Sheridan) stand out performance as the daughter whose looking to find her father along with her mother Donna, played by Helen Hobson, who also shines while her friends Rosie (Gillian Hardie) and Tanya (Emma Clifford) bring some brilliant comic moments. They can sing too.

The plot is really a sub plot to the songs which punctuate the show and provide the feel good energy throughout for the foot tapping,  hand clapping audience with an array of hits from the 1970s and 1980s.

Chiquitita, Thank You for the Music, SOS, Money, Money Money, Voulez-Vous, Lay All Your Love On Me, were among some of the much loved hits to be belted out and at  the finale, the audience were on their feet as the cast performed a rousing rendition of some Abba favourites, including Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia and Waterloo.

It is a fun filled  production which leaves the audience wanting more. It is as fresh today as day one.  It is impossible not to feel happy after the curtain comes down. The songs are infectious and  children, teenagers, parents and grandparents were mostly singing as they left the theatre.

Mamma Mia runs until 29th April

www.atgtickets.com/shows/mamma-mia/regent-theatre/

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